Looking at a Collection

Recently I was lucky enough to be asked to look through a collection of antique and vintage clothing and linens.  I was asked by an acquaintance of an acquaintance, so it shows how important making friends can be, even in the online world.  Anyway, the clothes were the property of a woman who had been in the home economics department of a local university.  She taught construction and pattern drafting.

Even though her interest in clothing and sewing was well-known, her family had no idea about the collection until after she died.  Quite a few large plastic tubs were found, all neatly labeled “Antique Clothing” or “Antique Linens.”  Her cousin, the administrator of the estate knew little about old clothing, and so that’s when I was called in.

Almost all the clothes were Victorian and Edwardian whites – lingerie pieces and white embroidered waists.  Much of the collection was of a very high quality with all the embroidery and laces made by hand.  Other pieces were more common, with little ornamentation and  cheaper laces.  There were chemises and nightgowns and dressing gowns and a few wonderful dresses like the one shown above.

There were vintage linens of all kinds, especially bridge tablecloths.  I love this windmill one.  That one blade moves to indicate the bid.

There was also a nice selection of vintage crafted handbags.  The collector may have used them for inspiration, as she was a contributor to quite a few craft books that were published by Lark Books and in their magazine Fiberarts.

A big mystery was this incredible jacket.  It is not embroidered, it is appliqued, and is all in wool felt.  I’d never seen anything like it and would sure appreciate being enlightened.

The collector’s interests also extended into textile making, and in the basement of her house a huge loom was set up.  You can also see a spinning wheel, a quilting frame and an embroidery stand.  As far as the family knew, she was not actively involved in activities that would actually use these tools.

But she did sew, and this folding cutting table was in her sewing studio.  That big drawer was full of vintage patterns, all neatly categorized.  After much thought, I decided to buy the table, as I’ve been cutting on a folding picnic table.  I’ll be reorganizing my sewing room and will show it later.

It was really a shame that the collector did not leave any information about her collection.  The cousin suspects that some of them were family pieces as they were tagged with a code that included the collector’s hometown.  Others still had price tags attached from where they had been purchased at an antiques store many years ago.  Perhaps she used them as examples in the classes she taught.  She may have used them for sewing inspiration.  As a lover of textiles, maybe she just appreciated them as lovely objects.


Filed under Collecting

39 responses to “Looking at a Collection

  1. poppysvintageclothing

    Some really lovely items! Thank you for sharing with us.
    That wool felt jacket is stunning. I wonder if it may be Hungarian or Latvian?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carla

    did you get that “buzz” I often get when coming across great finds….i almost got dizzy with excitement just seeing these!


  3. Fabulous treasures! I would would be spinning around, completely overwhelmed.So many misteries as well. I love this folding cutting table – did you buy it together with patterns? I hope so… It is absolutly amazing!


  4. Mem

    I love the jacket too. I wonder if it was from the 1920 s , inspired by the popularity of the Ballet Rus at that time . I have seen some Chanel clothing which is of that period and inspired by her relationship with Russian émigrés and the Ballet Rus .


  5. Wonderfujl photos….and very interesting from beginning to end. Thanks for sharing.


  6. what a TREASURE!!! i love the linen cut work dress – love it all-the linens are so beautiful-they should be shown..a friend of mine… antique dealer found some-sold them to me for a client-we had them shadow boxed framed-she did an entire hall way with them-i always concidered the hand work- art……what a great find!


  7. That purse is gorgeous – amazing that it’s almost 100 years old!


  8. Yay! I’m so glad you decided to buy the cutting table! It looks like it will be a great piece of furniture and a million times better than your folding picnic table! =)


  9. Oh my goodness! This sounds all so incredible! And the condition of the items that you showcased here is spectacular! How exciting!


  10. vastlycurious.com

    What a wonderful treat and don’t we love acquaintances of acquaintances!
    Beautiful work! Especially the dress. Miss you Liz! Kathryn

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That dress! That bag! That jacket! How fantastic that you got to look at this collection (and how lucky for them to have your expertise). I know you’ll put that cool cutting table to good use.


  12. Well, these lovely treasures reminded me of the importance of documentation. How much more wonderful would it have been if she had left records of where she found them and how she used them. (Yup, that’s the historian speaking.)


  13. Christina

    Cut felt work is certainly part of the Hungarian tradition but felt as applique was used in many parts of Central Asia. The front of the jacket apart from the collar is almost contemporary as in 1950’s. It’s a bit boxy with a slight flare and then the back of the jacket is a different story entirely. Mogul/India? What size is it Lizzie?


  14. Alice McGary

    Wow! What a buzz all that beautiful treasure must have given you.


  15. The stand-up-to-weave loom would have been my thrill. It looks stout enough to use for weaving rag rugs.


  16. I found a similar jacket on Ebay and it gives a description of what it is too! A szur – Hungarian shepherd’s coat. Here’s the link…



  17. what an experience! that beaded bag is beautiful, Lizzy ~ are they going to keep her collection in the family? or sell it as a whole? or item by item? do you know?


  18. Carrie

    How interesting! It really is a shame there was no documentation with the collection, but what wonderful items nonetheless… The jacket is amazing–such intricate work, and all applique? Wow! And that bridge tablecloth is a hoot…


  19. Jonathan Walford

    Now how did that beaded bag get all the way down south from Canada? It’s typical mid 19th century Iroquois beadwork. Nice example too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.